Swahili coast

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The Swahili Coast refers to a coastal area in Southeast Africa inhabited by the Swahili people. It mainly consists of littoral Kenya, Tanzania and northern Mozambique. The term may also include some of the Indian Ocean islands, such as Zanzibar, Pate and Comoros, which lie off the Swahili Coast. The Swahili Coast has a distinct culture, demography, religion and geography, and as a result - along with other factors, including economic - has witnessed rising secessionism.[1]

Settlements[edit]

The Swahili Coast in the African Great Lakes region.

The major ports along the Swahili Coast include:

Off-shore island groups associated with this coastal region:

History[edit]

Parts of the area that is today considered Swahili Coast was known as Azania or Zingion in the Greco-Roman era, and as Zanj or Zinj in Middle Eastern and Chinese literature from the 7th to the 14th century.[2] The description of this area in texts from the Middle East and China can be attributed to the trade that this region participated in over the Indian Ocean. Another indication of the Indian Ocean trade in which the Swahili Coast participated is the presence of pot shards that can be traced back to China and India.[3]

A product of the multi-cultured environment of the Swahili Coast was the development of the Swahili language, combining Bantu languages with Arabic.[citation needed]

Historical documents that describe the society, culture, and economy of this area include the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea and works by Ibn Battuta.

World-systems theory[edit]

The Swahili Coast's development can be understood by this trade with the Indian Ocean World.[4]The site of the Swahili Coast is part of a region known as the Indian Ocean world. The Indian Ocean world is a region whose historical developments are illuminated by the cycles of the Eurasian and African world system.[5] In this area, there was a rise of the Swahili culture as a semi-periphery between dominant cores and dominated social groups which were situated in the African interior and on outlying islands, such as the Comoros and Madagascar.[6]

Both the Swahili Coast and Indian Ocean world are part of a larger movement called the world system. The world system was a system based from its inception upon three or four ‘cores’, which held a position of dominance over their peripheries: China, India, West Asia and Egypt.[7] Geographic and demographic factors are obviously implicated in the inequalities which evolved; these inequalities also resulted from mechanisms of production and exchange, exchange which was embedded in religious and political configurations.[8] The system developed through four cycles, each cycle with phases of growth and demise: from the first to the sixth, from the seventh to the tenth, from the tenth to the fourteenth, and from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries. [9] It grew along with the exploitation both of the environment and of larger and larger geographical and social peripheries.[10]

Utilizing the World-systems theory, this trade worked to develop this region from a periphery to a semi-periphery from the sixth to the tenth century.[11] Representatives from the cores or other semi-peripheries were present in the Southeast African ports of trade, where they formed alliances with the local elites, who converted to Islam. [12] These processes contributed to an ideological, economic and political configuration specific to the Southeast African semi-periphery, a configuration that intensified the phenomena of dependence and transfers of wealth to the cores. [13] The influx of capital to this region through trade resulted in its development, and ultimately its downfall as it was so reliant upon that trade that the shifting of global systems resulted in its decline late in the 15th century.[14][citation needed]

See Also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Contagion of discontent: Muslim extremism spreads down east Africa coastline," The Economist (3 November 2012)
  2. ^ Felix A. Chami, "Kaole and the Swahili World," in Southern Africa and the Swahili World (2002), 6.
  3. ^ BBC Kilwa Pot Sherds http://www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld/about/transcripts/episode60/
  4. ^ Philippe Beaujard "East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the sixteenth century, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa" (2007), 15.
  5. ^ Philippe Beaujard "East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the sixteenth century, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa" (2007), 15.
  6. ^ Philippe Beaujard "East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the sixteenth century, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa" (2007), 15.
  7. ^ Philippe Beaujard "East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the sixteenth century, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa" (2007), 16.
  8. ^ Philippe Beaujard "East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the sixteenth century, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa" (2007), 16.
  9. ^ Philippe Beaujard "East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the sixteenth century, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa" (2007), 16.
  10. ^ Philippe Beaujard "East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the sixteenth century, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa" (2007), 16.
  11. ^ Philippe Beaujard "East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the sixteenth century, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa" (2007), 20.
  12. ^ Philippe Beaujard "East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the sixteenth century, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa" (2007), 20.
  13. ^ Philippe Beaujard "East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the sixteenth century, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa" (2007), 20.
  14. ^ Philippe Beaujard "East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the sixteenth century, Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa" (2007), 28.